In a recent editorial, AT Managing Editor Joseph Schultz wrote, “Compared to pre-pandemic times and despite the best efforts of professors, the education students are receiving this semester is a joke, unworthy of its steep price tag and the risk to students living in the dorms.”
Like most people, I share the concern about the risks associated with dorm living during a pandemic. However, I think it is completely unfair and not at all accurate to refer to the education students are receiving this semester as “a joke.”
The majority of academic departments on campus (and probably all of them), started planning for the fall semester last spring. Instructors with little to no background in online education participated in workshops and other instructional activities to get “up to speed.” In my Department of Communication Studies, instructors had frequent virtual meetings over the summer to discuss ways that we could provide the best possible education during the pandemic. I know for a fact that many other departments did the same. Many faculty put their academic research agenda on hold so they could dedicate more time to learning new teaching techniques. We did these things without receiving any extra compensation, and in fact most are taking substantial pay cuts this year.
Students and their families should know that the overwhelming majority of instructors on campus take their teaching responsibilities seriously, and are doing everything in our power possible to ensure that the education students receive is worthy of the steep price tag.
I’ve had the opportunity to learn about how my Comm Studies colleagues and others across campus are teaching their classes this semester. While everything is still a work in progress, the last term that I would use to describe it is a “joke.” In fact in many cases, the hybrid face-to-face, online model is probably more engaging and educational than what was the norm pre-pandemic. I would not at all be surprised if many instructors and students come to prefer that model even after the health crisis fades and we are no longer forced into it.
At various times, the pandemic has made all of us frustrated, scared, and angry. That’s no joke, but neither is the education occurring right now on our campus.